Before every Arsenal fixture, we’ll bring you a Scouting Report on the Gunners’ next opponents.
Arsène Wenger's side visit Napoli needing just a point to win Group F, to find out more, we asked tactical expert Michael Cox and journalist Francesca Ceciarini.
In the home victory over Napoli, Arsenal produced a blistering start to race into an early 2-0 lead, but Rafael Benitez’s side are much tougher opponents in the hostile Stadio San Paolo.
What's more, and Arsenal will probably be more patient – especially as just a point would seal first place in Group F.
Napoli have quickly become familiar with the 4-2-3-1 system Benitez has generally favoured throughout his managerial career, although the attacking department will be significantly different from the 2-0 defeat at the Emirates.
Star centre forward and former Arsenal target Gonzalo Higuain will lead the line having missed the reverse fixture, and will provide a direct goal threat up front. An intelligent all-round striker, Higuain often thrived on crosses at Real Madrid but since his move to Napoli he’s excelled more when running in behind defences to meet through-balls, or when dribbling directly from deep.
Napoli have quickly become familiar with the 4-2-3-1 system Benitez has generally favoured throughout his managerial careerMichael Cox
Napoli look set to be without central playmaker Marek Hamsik, however, which means that Goran Pandev – who played up front at the Emirates – will instead continue in the No 10 role, from where he’s registered three goals and an assist in his last two Serie A matches.
A clever player in a positional sense, Pandev will attempt to find space between the lines, and Arsenal must stay very tight in this zone.
Elsewhere, Arsenal should expect a significantly more difficult test from the Napoli full backs. At the Emirates, Italian international Christian Maggio was out injured and therefore understudy Giandomenico Mesto played instead, with Juan Zuniga on the other side.
However, Maggio has returned, while Zuniga has been injured since the previous meeting – so a combination of Maggio and Pablo Armero should be expected. Maggio is simply a more dangerous attacker than Mesto, regularly making unseen runs to creep in at the far post, while Armero is accustomed to playing as a wing back, so will charge forward repeatedly. He’s also an excellent dribbler.
Arsenal have often played very narrow in recent weeks, in the absence of proper wide players, but Napoli’s adventurous full backs will look to exploit any space down the flanks.
Napoli need to play without the fear they had when the two sides played at Emirates Stadium in October.
Some players were not used to handling the pressure of playing in such a big Champions League game last time. But with home support behind them on Wednesday, maybe they can relax and take the game to Arsenal.
Napoli's physical shape has faltered in recent weeks and they have missed important players like Marek Hamsik due to injuryFrancesca Ceciarini
However, they need to be aware of the Gunners' in-form attacking players so they need to produce a very strong defensive performance if they are to beat Arsenal and qualify for the last 16.
Rafael Benitez's attacking players need to make their attacking quality count. Players like Jose Maria Callejon, Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain need to produce big performances.
Napoli's form of late hasn't been great. They've dropped some important points in Serie A including a 1-0 defeat at home to Parma a few weeks ago
and a 3-3 draw against Udinese on Saturday, which left them eight points behind leaders Juventus.
Napoli's physical shape has faltered in recent weeks and they have missed important players like Marek Hamsik due to injury.
But the Champions League is a very different competition and I think they will give everything on Wednesday to beat Arsenal.